Reflection on Conservative Readings

by Molly on May 6, 2013

The political split in the class already seems to be causing some problems so rather than argue the individual points of each article and how they do or do not relate to the larger conservative worldview, I am going to keep my post to what I see to be the main issue…balance.

This week’s readings provided a nice counterbalance to what we’ve already read. I think it is somewhat disingenuous to assume, however, that the views and opinions expressed in a few blog posts are representative of the entirety of conservative thoughts and beliefs. In much the same manner, it would be wrong to extrapolate the liberal viewpoint by merely reading postings by Chauncey DeVega.

Several people mentioned the issue of sources in connection with this week’s readings. I think there is a general problem regarding sources with history posted on the internet…anything that appears “too academic” or complicated is going to be glossed over or ignored. The problem is not limited to this week’s readings, either. Despite his repeated claims of “empirical” evidence, Chauncey DeVega did not provide much in the way of substantiation for his arguments. I think that is a problem that public historians have to look for ways to address…how can we produce good history that is accessible to the public yet still meets the basic standards we should all ascribe to in terms of sources and an accurate, balanced presentation?

Finally, the “humor” article by Jack Hitt was a hit piece. There are more than enough stupid quotes that can be taken out of context on the liberal side to provide just as ridiculous a timeline. To try and pass misstatements and isolated quotes off as something representative of the larger conservative viewpoint does nothing to engender consensus and cooperation.

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Conservative Historians Blogging

by Jim on May 6, 2013

This week’s readings had its moments of insightful history/social commentary and I’m glad this topic was chosen.

Carlson’s article on the history of the conservative movement(s) from the 20th century was intriguing. It seemed as accurate as a short paper could be. I thought some of the “less-traveled” paths were a bit paradoxical. On paper some of these failed conservative camps sounded a bit communistic – specifically communitarianism. It’s interesting how these cultural philosophies sound really good in theory, but in practice it turns out much different. I guess that could be said about any political system.

Some of the other articles had less substance and were hardly historical arguments. Postell’s article about Lincoln and the Founding Fathers and the anonymous blogger’s article about Marxist teachers both had age-old fallacy: A is similar to C, B is also similar to C, therefore A is similar to B. My scooter is green, my lawn is green, therefore my scooter is a lawn! Obama likes Lincoln, Lincoln made a limited government comment once, so why is Obama trying to take my liberties?! It’s hard to get through these types of articles.

This is not a practice limited to conservative bloggers and only a few of the articles were that ridiculous. I thought some of the articles brought up good points and simply offered an opposing argument to some of the extreme topics placed in the classroom. Some of the articles, like Carlsons, and the “point of contention” blog bring up the fact that the rise of conservatism coincided with the U.S. emergence as a superpower. I think that’s a fair point that is worth repeating. I think we all could gain some understanding by looking back to the 1950s and say out loud what we thought was great about that time, and what we disliked. I think we would very quickly find out who is leaning conservative and who’s leaning liberal.

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Thoughts on Readings May 6

by April J. Raine on May 6, 2013

I was looking forward to some intelligent debate this week. I was looking forward to well-reasoned arguments that reflected a pragmatic conservative approach to history, but what I found was a bunch of random information, complaining, and anachronism.

Allan C. Carson outlines a rather disjointed history of conservatism and defines conservatism using Barry Goldwater’s famous quote that conservatism attempts “to apply wisdom and experience and the revealed truths of the past to the problems of today.” However, it is seems that much of conservatism (evidenced through these articles) isn’t concerned with problem solving but is defined by reactionary rhetoric, blaming, and complaining. I didn’t find any reasoned arguments in the readings, even among those countering the conservative points. This is probably due to the fact that you can’t reasonably argue against a bunch of ranting. All of these conservative bloggers seemed to be just spewing out a bunch of information with no connecting or coherent statements linking them together. A strong argument is not a bunch of random facts and opinions, and this go for both Liberals and Conservatives! And this is the appeal of Conservativism, for many people, — it isn’t thoughtful or logic driven.

Conservative rhetoric is imbued with inflammatory and impassioned language which distracts from the lack of logical and coherent thought. This could be the reason that religious fervor fits nicely into Conservative arguments. There is also an insane amount of blaming and complaining that goes on in Conservative speech. David W. Almasi’s article regarding the Chavez monument is a ridiculous piece of this kind of pointless blaming. It is fairly well-known that Chavez (and Gandhi) were effective leaders but disturbed individuals, but David W. Almasi turns the endorsed Chavez monument into some sort of scandal, which it is not. A politician made a political move, wow… This is not earth shattering journalism.

The interpretation of history found in these articles is also more inflamed than logical, and seems lacking in critical analysis. Carlson doesn’t acknowledge that what he calls the “notorious 60s” was birthed out of the conservative 1950s, a time he praises as the ideal decade socially, economically, and politically for everyone. However, if the 1950s were halcyon days why were so many privileged white youth and unprivileged non-white groups so equally unhappy with it?

Carlson also states that a neo-conservative is a “liberal mugged by reality,” but this doesn’t really mesh with what I have seen from the Conservative camp. At the heart of Conservative rhetoric is a very narrowly defined concept of reality, or desired reality. This is why Conservatism has been accused of blatant racism, sexism, and elitism. This isn’t to say that Liberals are not guilty of the same thing, especially behind the scenes. In fact, Liberalists are possibly the most covert group of classists and racists currently existing in politics and the professional world; and this is part of the reason that so many working-class people and people of color are turned off by Liberalism. In terms of the Conservative “reality”, the fact that many Conservatives politicians have never personally experienced racism, sexism, homophobia, or classism places these things so far outside their “reality” that Conservative rhetoric starts to purport that they don’t even exist, or if they do exist, they exist as an inconvenience or as a product of overly sensitive individuals. Further these inconveniences, according to Conservatives, in no way are the responsibility of the government or society.

The other problem I had with the week’s readings was that the authors were constantly complaining about generalized things. Generalizing is why so many people, myself included, are turned off by Conservativism. For example, if you want to start attracting black voters, stop putting all black voters in the same category. This was a major problem in Kevin Williamson’s article.

This week’s blog writers also loved to be anachronistic. So much of this reading seemed to be a debate about what historical figures would be Liberal or Conservative today. Kevin Jackson opens his article with arguing against this kind of anachronism then proceeds to do the same thing! The point of this anachronism is to push their own agenda, but to what end? How is this problem solving? How is this engaged and thoughtful politics? So MLK would be a Republican today? Great! Now what?

Perhaps, there is still hope that Conservatives can move away from their angry, generalized, and inflammatory speech, so we can all sit down and have a logical debate. The problems in the world are complex, and a debate about them deserves more than a series of venting and blaming.

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Identity Crisis

by Zach Brown on May 6, 2013

It was in a short video about the Spanish Civil War and Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA)—the Basque militant, and de facto terrorist, political faction—that I saw an interview with an elderly Basque man who had seen the violence and experienced the repression of Franquist Spain. In the interview he said something very interesting to me, and pertinent to the discussion of conservatism. (I’ll paraphrase, as I cannot remember the exact quote) The effect of the quote was “I think that a person who has something, who owns something, is naturally going to be a conservative, because he has something that he wants to keep.” First of all is the obvious reality of the quote, that a person who is a conservative has something to conserve. The second point is in relation to the readings, and in particular Dr. Carlson’s. That point is that conservatism boomed in direct correlation to a boom in wealth in the United States. Personally, I had not realized how reliant this country was on social systems prior to the industrial boom of post-WWII society until I began studying local history. Even through the boom there was a great deal of dependence on what could be considered communal systems. Though based solely on anecdotal observations, it seems to me that wealth causes division among humans. Weather it does so on a class level as Marx suggested, or merely at the individual level, it seems painfully obvious that there is a divide when wealth comes in the picture. Having said that, I still consider myself a conservative, despite my abysmal poverty, and an individualist, despite my recognition that I require community, and a Christian, despite my extreme disappointment with what I observe as practical Christianity in the United States.

Hi-ho Silver—to the readings…

(disclaimer: I must preface the remainder of my comments by forthrightly stating that I have numerous withholdings in calling myself a conservative, philosophical and practical as well as literate. I find many conservatives to be off-putting in how they go about stating their objectives, some in what their objectives are. I don’t like the fact that so often conservatives present themselves as soulless ignoramuses, preaching morality and practicing something entirely different. I am frustrated by the lack of practical application of many of their conclusions as well as their stubborn, stiff-neckedness toward any suggestion of meaningful discussion or compromise. Having said all of that, most of those sentiments are equally applicable toward the other side of the coin as well. I detest what I often refer to as “bipolarism,” which is not a reference to the disease, and bear resemblance to Hegelian Opposites. I DON’T LIKE THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM! I think that Americans have been duped by the political forces that rule the land, and largely by an education system that perpetuates the discord via ardent support among the educators of a left of center ideal to a rather extreme degree. All this to say that I am a hard-core centrist with very strong antipathy toward any sort of real identification with any one particular perspective.)

I shall begin with what I thought was a true historical analysis without the political edge that I felt in many of the readings. I will devote an entire paragraph to the longest of these articles, and here it is: Dr. Carlson provided a well-structured and fair analysis of the history of conservatism. I thought it was rooted well in historical evidence, and supported by good sources. There, now wasn’t that nice?

Now on to the more fun stuff:

One element of politics that has always made me angry is the use of personally debasing statements to make a point. Case-in-point, Ken Taylor on The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth referred to the “idiots on the left.” Now really people, not conservatism’s best side. Oh, don’t worry, the Left has their catchphrase cuts for the “Christofascists” on the Right too. It is in fact for this reason that I never went into debate. Every time I was in a debate and trying to stick to the facts and interpretation thereof, my opponent would start throwing out personal attacks, and it just seemed to defeat the purpose of the whole practice, especially when they would win—not because their interpretation was better, but because they were better at making me look bad. At any rate, back to conservatives…I don’t like that quick reductionism that many conservatives leap to. Conservatism can be defended and it can be intellectually valid, but it’s adherents are destroying it. They do so with a complete and total failure to acknowledge the need to compromise by carrying everything to its extreme through a logic that always fails to provide a holistic argument and totally reduces any and every issue to a liberal misinterpretation of the constitution. So this is intended as a cheeky swipe at conservatives using their own methods, but, seriously, through the readings this week, it was hard to miss how quickly each author jumped from addressing an actual issue to attacking the liberals and their disdain for the constitution (should that be capitalized? Like, if it’s not, am I just talking about someone’s general physical propencities?). The point is that conservatives, by toting the Hegelian ideal don’t really help the situation of American politics.

I would also like to address the issue of “Christianity” and conservative America. Despite my identification with both groups, it borders on offensiveness to me when a pastor/minister/reverend/priest/bishop—I specifically am singling out “Christian” leaders—uses his position and church as a platform for politics. Don’t get me wrong, I think that there are issues where “Christians” should draw their line and fight for it, but that does not mean that church leaders should influence their congregation from the pulpit. It was that very behavior that led to the health/wealth gospel, the Billy Graham era and Reganocracy. This is a really tricky issue, because so often in the world religious or philosophical circles overlap political circles in some sort of strange Venn diagram. Yet—and I cannot overstate this—Christians must learn to develop their own philosophies and ministers must stop preaching a political gospel. The level of politics in American churches today has so poisoned the church that an organization—and I believe that a church is not a place, but people—that ought to be a refuge has become circles of scorn for those with differing politics. It has given rise to a generation like myself who despises the church, but eventually realizes it is not the church they despise, but anti-Christian exceptionalism embraced by the church.

In the reading this week, as I often find in conservative politics, I saw this disturbing conflagration of church/politics. Or of Christian/politics, and it disturbed me as it usually does. While I believe that the church has a right, and a responsibility to its people to discuss morality, I don’t think it has a right to impose its morals as such upon the broader swath of society. While I may argue that certain moral decisions within the secular sphere would benefit from a Christian ethic, I try to limit my arguments to secular arguments. I will grant that this is not an exact or perfect practice, but it is a practice, and it is the only practice that I have found that allows me to remain honest to myself and my faith. I feel one of the most exceptional examples of the Christian/politics crossover was the article on J. E. Dyer’s blog that discussed Islam and tried to defend an exception to freedom of religion in its case.

Finally—and I swear this is the last point in an already wordy post—I want to point out the use of “State” and “State’s Rights” among conservatives, particularly in Dyer’s blog, The Optimist Conservative. A general trend I have noted among conservatives is a misunderstanding of what the word “State” means. I think this misunderstanding is aided by a federalist governmental system that overarches individual states. Generally, when the word “State” is used in politics worldwide, it is used to refer to an independently classified entity with an independent government and a people that are united under some degree of mutuality. The states of the United States, are only semi-autonomous, and as such, are not really states, they are at best, provinces. This reality might fly in the face of what hard-core libertarians would like to think is the ideal, but it is the reality. In the case of the United States, the federal government by-and-large is the only thing that may be referred to as state. This being the case, when the constitution refers to the separation of Church and State, it does not indicate individual states that may choose their own stance on religion within, but the separation of Church from Government, and Government from Church. In this case, the “State” referred to is the federal government, not municipal or provincial governments. It makes for a great difference in interpretation of the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’d like to conclude that while I am happy that we read some from the conservative side of the spectrum, I feel that for me it was just white noise. I read a good selection from many different sides of things on a regular basis and I find off-center extremes are not where I find the most identification.

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Conservative History?

by Katie on May 6, 2013

The history depicted in today’s reading reminds me just how much I dislike stereotypes of any kind. I am a self defined conservative woman and I do not approve most of what I’ve read here. I’m going to focus on the Lincoln article to save some time. I don’t think it would be a surprise to most who know me that I don’t really appreciate people taking Lincoln’s words out of context. Lincoln and his view on the Constitution and it’s writers is extremely complex. To say that “He respected and followed the text of the Constitution, rather than interpreting it as a “living” and evolving document or simply scrapping it altogether” would be a blatant lie. Lincoln understood the flexibility of the Constitution in times of war and at times completely ignored it. He committed many unconstitutional acts in his attempt to protect it. But I digress. Postell picked and chose what speeches to quote Lincoln from and ignored his actions. History without context is worthless. Instead, this history is purposefully narrow in order to support his point. Any and all history can corrupt itself if written this way. To corrupt history for one’s own purpose is upsetting to me. I think it defeats everything we have studied and worked towards as historians and public historians. If I were to create a museum exhibit of the Lincoln depicted in Postell’s work it would, by necessity, have to end at his election. The Lincoln of the Civil War would not support his supposition whatsoever. As historians and public historians we have to make sure that we’re telling the whole story no matter if we are red, blue, or purple.

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Interpreting History

by David on May 6, 2013

In reading this week’s post, I believe I have reinforced the same belief that many others have come to before me, both conservatives and liberals approach not only historical events, but current events in a manner that coincides with their own unique beliefs on how the world should run. Reading this articles and watching multiple news channels really shows this. What they write or report on and the angle they go with really shows how our two party systems cover a wide spectrum of ideological beliefs, be they political, social, or religious.

One of the articles that caught my attention was “Gun Control—Not According to George Washington.” In the article Ken Taylor makes reference to a quote that George Washington said. The basic summary of the quote being that a free people should be able to have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain some status of their independence from anyone who tries to take it away from them.  These made me think of the Whiskey Rebellion. Though the Federal Government did not take their arms away, poor farmers in the western portion of the United States felt that the government had assaulted their freedom by imposing upon a tax that attacked their lively hood. Though not much came out of this event in the end, Washington did not view this tax as an attack on an individual’s freedoms or independence. It is that view that very much centers on any argument pertaining to the second amendment. In this post, Taylor argues that all legislation impacts law abiding gun owners, not criminals. Watching the news I know that is the very core of the conservative argument. I would imagine in an anti-gun blog, the blogger would use current events and laws to support their claim for gun legislation. What they both have in common though is that they both see themselves as defending the second amendment in the way they have come to interpret it.

            Every blog, article, and book out there shows an individual’s interpretation of the event and hopefully of some primary source material. One of the greatest appreciations that I have drawn from reading both conservative and liberal articles over the course of the class is the ability to be able to freely express ones belief in generally any matter you can come up with.

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Is this the real life?

by laynewynn on May 6, 2013

The readings for this week has really stopped and made me think.  Though I view myself as my parents viewed themselves as “New Dealers”, I found that I was more middle of the road than I thought that I was.  I agree with Corey that I am grateful for my Second Amendment rights.  Teachers though do not need to be armed.  Most schools have SRO’s or School Resource Officers, that do carry a loaded weapon into a public school.  They are there to handle those kind of situations.  I really do not  agree with Mr. Barton.  If a armed teacher was at Sandy Hook, it could have made the situation that much worse, if the perpetrator knew that there was a teacher carrying a weapon.  With my military training, I had months of weapons classes and training.  I took no particular pleasure carrying a loaded M-16 on my back for 18 months.  Barton’s articles to me were very cringe worthy and wonder what his Version of America would really look like.

I have a good question about Mr. Conservative Teacher?  He seems to be posting like Caunchy De Vega, with a pseudo-name?  Is he afraid that he might lose his job if the Lefties find out his real name?  Oh Heaven Forbid!  Okay, now class, I did some student teaching in a public High School.  When I team taught the 50′s about McCarthyism,  we taught the blacklist.  But it was with a neutral slant.  Please watch YouTube as we all have, when he is stating that there are spies everywhere in the Army, and the Mr. Welch finally called him for what he was.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po5GlFba5Yg).  So there Mr. Conservative Teacher, on live television.  If you want a Conservative Education then go to BYU, Oral Roberts University or Liberty University.  All right enough soapbox.

Jack Hitt’s article really showed my how the other 53 percent really think.  To me this showed just how really uneducated politicians are, (and I am sure there is an article about what the liberal politicians have said).  I followed what was said during the Presidential Primaries, and Mr. Hitt brought them all out.  It is really hard being Blue in a Red state, but I try to deal with it as best as I can and yes, Michelle Bachmann loves New Hampshire.

 

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Conservative History

by ryanschaff on May 5, 2013

Opinions are great, even if they differ from my own. However, blatant lies and twisting history is uncalled for. While not every article contained it, many of these articles used history as their playground. They climbed all over it and abused it in order to fit their political argument. When we read Chauncey’s articles, some were concerned with the evidence he used and said it was poor. While I did not like everything he said, and felt there were elements of his arguments that contained more opinion than fact, he at least included some sources.  Well for the majority of these articles I ask where is the evidence at all? Many of them contained no facts to backup their opinions. Without facts you have no argument. A lot of the articles contained hypothetical arguments such as if George Washington lived today he’d allow Americans to own any gun they wanted. Or that if Martin Luther King were alive today he’d stand next to Rush Limbaugh in protest of big government. I think it’s pointless to make a statement that someone who lived hundreds of years ago would agree with something you are doing today because it’s impossible to prove.

 

Allan Carlson used sources to backup his claims, however he used the same author for most of his evidence. He made a good point that FOX News contributes to the narrowing of thought and closes people off to a healthy debate. When you watch Hannity and O’Reilly, there is no debate. They are right and you are wrong and they prove this by shouting at you rather than providing facts and debating in a polite way. However, FOX should not be solely targeted. MSNBC is guilty as well, as is CNN. Like Chauncey said, the corporate media networks are not interested in telling the truth but are interested in viewers so they stir the pot. What is shocking is how many people believe their pot stirring statements.

 

Moving on to Carol Scott’s article on the Constitution. She claims there are only three types of Democrats when it comes to the Constitution: Those who don’t support it, those who sort of support it but secretly don’t, and those that do. First off, it’s more complex than that. Just because someone does not support every single piece of the Constitution does not make them anti-American, or against the Founding Fathers. She basically said that those who do not support the Constitution 100% do not understand the Federalist papers and are not supporters of the Founding Fathers, which is a simplistic and ignorant statement.  Her agenda is clear; to make Liberals seem anti-American and against the Founding Fathers, while at the same time make Republicans the true patriots carrying on the legacy of the founders. She stated the “so-to speak supporters” are misleading the public. What is her argument doing then? Exactly the same thing.

 

The Optimistic Conservative provided us with an article on how everything in this country is tied to God. While everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs, we are a country that was founded on the separation of Church and State. Meaning state should not influence religion, and religion should not influence the state. However, I feel the latter is not as condemned as the former. The rights in this country were created by men, not God first of all. Secondly, to clump all the founders in as Church going Christians is a misrepresentation of what they were. While the majority identified as Christians, to assume they all practiced the same way and with the same passion is, again, a generalization. We have freedom of religion in this country, which means saying this country was created under God (which means the Protestant version of God) is infringing on the rights of Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Taoists, etc. If government is not allowed to make decisions which infringe on religion, then why is religion allowed to make decisions which dictate legislation (abortion, gay marriage, creation taught in school, etc)? Seems hypocritical to me.

 

Ken Taylor’s article may have been the most biased out of the group. Not only did he include zero citations or evidence, but his argument is hypocritical. He blamed the liberals for using the founding fathers to back up their political claims, yet what is he doing in this article? The same exact thing. Not only is he taking words spoken by Washington out of context, he is forgetting that the second amendment stated guns should be available for a “well regulated militia.” A militia is not every single person who wants a gun. While the right to bear arms is clear, the right to bear any arm is not clear. He’s comparing the guns of 1776 to the guns of 2012? Sorry, but there is no comparison. I don’t agree when people say things like “Well George Washington would have agreed with me today” when they really have no idea what he would think. What would Washington’s reaction to the second amendment be if he saw we had automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and clips that could hold 100 rounds? Even 30 rounds would seem like an assault weapon to him. I don’t think Taylor should be so confident that Washington’s reaction would be supportive of total gun freedom. He also said there has never been a successful case of gun control in any country, which is false. Australia instituted gun legislation after the massacre in Tasmania and haven’t had a massacre since. Before that, they saw eight massacres within the last thirteen years. Europe is another example where gun violence is down. So it has worked in other countries Mr. Taylor.

 

I am done rambling now, but for the majority of the articles I just found zero sources or facts to back up any claims. I found ignorance towards historical events from a lot of the articles. Not only did they use history to justify their political viewpoints, but they ignored historical evidence which countered parts of their arguments. Liberals are not exempt either. Both sides use history to their benefit. However, the hijacking of MLK really annoyed me. While they use the argument his niece said he was a Republican, his own son said not only was he not a Republican, he never voted for one in his entire life. Who is a more reliable source? His niece or his son? However, I get the impression it doesn’t matter who said it as long as someone did, which troubles me. If you don’t use critical thinking when faced with facts such as this, how can you be a historian? You can’t say he was a Republican because his niece said so when his son says otherwise.

http://www.politifact.com/tennessee/statements/2012/jan/23/charlotte-bergmann/another-republican-claims-martin-luther-king-jr-wa/

 

While 100% objectivity is impossible, I feel that trying to be as objective as possible is attainable. Not only were a majority of these articles not objective at all, but there was not even an attempt. A lack of evidence hurt their arguments as well.  Hardly any of them used any statistics or facts to support what they said. While I didn’t disagree with everything they stated, the way they presented it turned me away. Had they brought in other arguments and considered them instead of the “I am right, you are wrong” argument, it would have helped. And yes, Ms. Bachmann is incorrect, the majority of the Founding Fathers owned slaves including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Patrick Henry, John Jay, Samuel Chase, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conservative Ideals

by Niki on May 5, 2013

In reading this weeks postings I have come to the conclusion that conservatives and liberals do in fact “do history” differently.  The bloggers that I read this week like to write about how things were better before liberals ruined the country.  They believe that if only they could eliminate the liberal indoctrination of the children of America things would be much better.  This is a concept that keeps popping up over and over again; indoctrination.  This is a real fear for them.  Because they believe that liberals are evil, as Strickland stated, and have morally compromised leaders as Scott affirms.  This is why they can show Barak Obama as the devil and state that Jimmy Carter is the worst liberal ever.  Really, Jimmy Carter is the worst liberal ever?  This man has spent the past 35 years building homes for the homeless and attempting to stop the spread of disease in Africa through creating methods for cleaner drinking water.  This is not the worst liberal ever.

Another concept that I noticed is that some bloggers use facts in a new and surprising way.  For example, Barton claimed that the 3/5ths clause was not a measurement of human worth.  The reality is that they did not see slaves as human, they were property.  This can’t be ignored.  To call it an anti-slavery provision is a bit disingenuous.  The North did not think it was fair to have slaves be property and yet still count as population.  There was also an argument made that the Founding Fathers were mostly opposed to slavery.  Again, this is an interesting interpretation of the facts.  Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe all owned slaves.  Even Klugewicz, another conservative blogger, stated that after the Constitutional Convention Madison sold off his valet because he was afraid that his slave might get ideas about freedom and liberty.  So while they might have claimed to dislike the institution of slavery, none of them were willing to take the financial hit that freeing their slaves would have caused.  This class is also aware that Washington created the runaway slave laws after his own slave ran off.  So it’s not like they were fighting the good fight to end slavery or that they were willing to put their money where their morals were.

I agree with Vanessa Anderson regarding the contributions of blacks in history.  I think too often we focus on what was done to blacks.  History shows that they had their own methods of rebelling.  Black people have made enourmous contributions to this country, as have women and Native Americans.  We should talk about that more often.  It is funny that she made this point by attacking liberals for wanting to teach sex education.  “I firmly believe that if accurate history regarding this era was actually taught in schools (instead of teaching our youth how to have safe anal sex), we would by now be dealing with fading racial scars instead of wounds that wont heal; better yet, wounds that are not allowed to heal.”  Sigh.

There seems to be this idea among conservatives that only they are truly patriotic.  They use the founding of America and the mythology that surrounds the Founding Fathers to point out that they hold the only means to saving this country from the horrors of liberalism.  Ken Taylor brings up all the men who died defending the heritage of America.  He writes about Old Glory, my country tis of thee, bravery, and freedom.  He wants us all to remember the fighting men and women keeping this country safe for democracy.  This is nationalism at its scariest.  He’s not really saying anything here, just using patriotic rhetoric to remind us that there is a war being fought that we should all be supporting.

The teacher/blogger made me laugh.  I had to roll my eyes at some of the things he said because I believe that, yes, the government should protect the environment because it has been proven that without the government business will use the most economical means of disposing of hazardous materials.  Usually this involves dumping them.  “Only by removing the communist principles in education can teachers again teach and further the life, liberty, and prosperity of our children.”  Again, I see fear inducing rhetoric.  Do this or life, liberty, and prosperity will be unavailable for your children.  I doubt it, but ok.  I will say that I liked his take on the preparedness and education of high school students.  Often what is overlooked is how intelligent some of these kids are.  Each succeeding generation is afraid for the lazy good-for-nothings coming up behind them.  I doubt that the USA will fall into failure when the next generation comes of age.  It will just be different than it was before; as it should be.  There is the crux of the difference between libs and cons.  One wants thing to stay the same and one is forever wanting change, to bad that they can’t work together, like yin and yang, bringing balance to the force.

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Liberals, Conservatives, and Some Crazy Articles

by lucasasprouse on May 5, 2013

History of Conservatism

If historical mindedness “is the superior way to make sense of reality,” then why is Carlson “troubled by the growing interest of American conservatives in the history of their cause?”  This is either contradictory, or – in the mind of Carlson – conservatives are unable to make sense of reality.  This is a deeply troubling introduction to a rather biased article based upon the premise that conservatism is based on illegitimate problems and is therefore dying out.  Carlson argues that Libertarians “grounding in Old Europe gave them a stronger sense of history [and] a deeper perception that allowed them to see beyond certain superficialities” that are obviously tainting the rest of the conservative party.  Carlson argues that Fusionism is its own brand of conservatism, linking traditionalism with libertarianism.  I would argue that Fusionism is Conservatism: linking Judeo-Christian traditions, American exceptionalism, and libertarianism.

Carlson emphatically states that “the Reagan Era is over [it has become] pretty well drubbed.”  If Conservatism can outlast eight years of Clinton and Gore, why can’t it outlast Obama? George W. Bush was able to create a four-stranded coalition much like Reagan, who is to say this can’t occur once again.  Carlson castigates Republican ideals, the Reagan Era, and George W. Bush in explaining all that is wrong with America (he calls it the “Where are we now?” section).  This article was written in 2009, during Obama’s first year of office.  Carlson’s so-called “Age of Obama” has done little to change any of the “problems” in America despite Obama having his way over the past few years.  I wonder if Carlson would still see an “Age of Obama” following the “Reagan Era,” or if he – like many liberals – would be disappointed that Obama has not brought substantial positive chage?  It is too bad this article isn’t more recent.  As for Carlson’s comments about conservatives embracing forms of distributism and communitarianism alongside cultural pessimism, I highly doubt these will occur.  These three ideas contain conflicting ideals, and these three ideas only speak to an extremely small minority within the current conservative party.

Republicans, Democrats, and the Constitution/Founders

I found Ken Taylor’s articles to be well written, open in their bias, and historically founded.  His assertions regarding the Founding Fathers, fun control, and Thanksgiving seem rather straight-forward.  While I found parts of Scott’s and the Optimistic Conservative’s articles well written, I hold reservations regarding both.

Scott’s article about three types of Democrats – he broke them up by their level of adherence to the Constitution – has great potential.  I agree with most of his assertions regarding the first two types of Democrats, but I have reservations regarding the third. “Open Opponents” to the Constitution will continue to fight against a document they regard as impeding progress, but at least they are open about their views and individuals electing them know this and are able to vote accordingly.  “So-to-Speak Supporters” of the Constitution are epitomized by FDR and Obama.  They oppose the Constitution as much as the first group, but understand how awful this sounds and therefore mask their true feelings in distastefully vague rhetoric in order to further their purpose to wholly disregard the Constitution in order to make way for liberal “progress.”  Scott argues that “Forthright Supporters” of the Constitution are few and far between in the Democratic Party because of inherently conflicting ideals.  He proceeds to explain why – in his opinion – Democrats simply can’t uphold the Constitution.  This is simply not true.  Just because liberals and conservatives disagree on most every issue does not mean that neither party is willing to (or has the capability of ) adhering to the Constitution.  I would definitely add that there are three types of Republicans: “Forthright Supporters” like the Tea Party and the New Right, “So-to-Speak Supporters” who choose which parts of the Constitution to uphold and which parts not to uphold, and “Open Opponents” like truly radical rightists who feel that the current form of government is so corrupt that a new government with a new Constitution needs to be created.  Neither party is perfect.  Yes, the Republican Party is more Constitutionally-minded; but, there are Constitutionally-minded Democrats and Republicans that oppose the Constitution.

The Optimistic Conservative writes about whether Americans have the right to disobey Islamic law or not.  As this individual points out, Americans are granted the undeniable freedom of religion.  This includes religions – like Islam – that are out of the mainstream.  So long as Islamic Law does not stand in the way of federal, state, and local laws and ordinances, Muslims are free to obey Islamic Law.  Once Islamic Law oversteps, wholly disregards, or disobeys American law, Islamic Law may be deemed unlawful.  Until that time, Muslims are free to practice their religion as granted them by the Constitution.  As for non-Muslims, I agree with the author, we have the inherent right to disobey Islamic Law, just like Americans have the inherent right to disobey Jewish Law.  This nation is not a theocracy, this nation is a democratic republic; this author would be wise to keep this in mind.

Presidents

Why aren’t there any articles about Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, or George W. Bush?  Surely understanding these individuals is just as important (if not more important) as understanding Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in gaining a better understanding of Presidents and conservatism throughout history.  Postel’s brief article on Lincoln sheds light on a greater American problem plaguing both Republicans and Democrats.  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have become the go-to Presidents whenever someone wants to defend an idea.  Washington and Lincoln were both great men who did great things; but both were imperfect men as all men are.  I am extremely conservative, and I for one and sick and tired of having Lincoln flaunted about as the conservative poster-child.  It would be a toss-up between Lincoln and FDR as to who broke the Constitution more.  Regardless of my beliefs, Postel’s article is based upon primary documents, something the Heritage Foundation prides itself in.  I particularly enjoyed the Conservative Historian’s article on Teddy Roosevelt.  TR, as with many presidents, is utilized to perpetuate most everyone’s ideas.

Recent History

Ericksen’s article was an enjoyable read.  His sentence “It is amazing that within a one week period the media went from speculating that right wingers were celebrating Hitler’s birthday on tax day to blaming Chechen nationalism to hearing the bomber say he was inspired by Islam to announcing it’s not him, it’s us to blame,” sums up conservative sentiments about what is wrong with the liberal media ruining this country.  If the bomber had been a right wing extremist rather than an Islamic extremist, the media would be talking about this instance for months.  Because the terrorist was yet another Muslim – “In the past decade we have seen that not all Muslims are terrorists, but just about every terrorist has been a Muslim – the media is blaming America? I would ask where the logic is behind this, but I already know the answer, there isn’t any.  Longstreet’s article, while overtly passionate, political, and religious, brings up great topics regarding the current trends in America.  Something is clearly going wrong, at least Longstreet is offering ideas of how to fix this once great nation.

History Education: Educational Resources, Posts by Teachers, Posts about Education

A Conservative Teacher provided great insights into historical education.  I loved his ideas about a capstone project to end a World History class.  I wonder how he chose the ten people, places, events, ideas… when handing out this assignment.  Regardless, I absolutely loved the student examples he gave.  Any student that likens Obama to Mark, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, and Napoleon need only add FDR into the mix to see how often “great men” fail throughout history.  The best part of the first article was not the parts that got me to laugh, but the conclusion: “Students today, just like students in the past, are as smart, hard-working, intuitive, and creative as previous generations, as long as the previous generations get out of the way and let them be all that they can be.”  Well put.  History teachers need to allow students to think critically, form educated opinions, and become culturally literate members of society.

A Conservative Teacher’s assertion that a country will retain its national core regardless of the government’s attempts to “change” it is particularly comforting given the current regime’s constant attempts to “change” everything.  I wonder what A Conservative Teacher would say about the government’s attempts at educational change?  While I believe both Republican and Democratic Presidents have acted with the best of intentions in creating educational plans for America, most of these have failed rather miserably.  How would A Conservative Teacher categorize or justify this?  As for his article about state standards, I agree completely.  Liberal indoctrination is ruining our schools.  As more and more states adopt the Common Core Standards (a liberal-leaning, federal initiative to unify disparate state standards) misconceptions are furthered and less content is learned.  This is not to say that conservatives are not doing the same thing, skimming the Texas State Standards will show the exact opposite trend.

After reading A Conservative Teacher’s article about McCarthyism, I know that I would have loved him as a teacher.  He explained to his students that there is a conservative spin on McCarthyism and that there is a liberal spin on McCarthyism.  By addressing biases, he is allowing his students to discover the truth while forming their own opinions.  As for the “liberal” teacher’s notes he acquired, I think the teacher should be fired, unless he or she is teaching at Karl Mark High School for Socialist Minded Students Seeking Liberal Indoctrination.  J

The lesson plan on Gun Rights has the makings of a great lesson plan.  Both sides of the issue are presented and the majority of the questions allow the students to think critically.  By this I mean that most of the questions are not leading or worded in a way that expects a specific answer.  Seeing as the Second Amendment is the main point of this lesson, the teacher teaching the class would have to have a good understanding of the Constitution in order to effectively present the conservative opinion.  Similarly, the teacher would have to have a good understanding of social change and progressive movements in order to effectively present the liberal opinion.  As an educator that strives to present both sides of most every argument, I strive to be the ultimate generalist so I can understand and explain the main ideas behind most historical movements and ideas.  All in all, this is a good lesson plan; whether or not this lesson is effective depends upon the teacher presenting the lesson.

The fact that a self-described “liberal, queer feminist” is teaching about the history of conservatism should be disheartening to all.  During my undergraduate career, I had a white teacher from the middle of Nebraska who admitted that she never saw a person of color until she was 18.  This teacher taught me Multicultural Education, a class about integrating multicultural ideas into “white” curriculum.  This might shock you, but I got next to nothing out of this class.  Teachers that are so one-sided should stick to teaching about general historical topics where they can insert their biases.  As an aside, Potter could have left out the self-description, her biased opinions shaded the entire article.  Potter casts conservatives as unintelligent, illogical, and radical.  I am very glad that I was not subjected to this teacher’s poor explanation of history.

Klugewicz’s views on historical education run parallel to my own.  The reason I am becoming a history teacher is to encourage students to think for themselves rather than accept the “facts” that are purported by liberal teachers attempting to indoctrinate their students.  Too many teachers encourage nihilism when it comes to American history.  Too often, liberals emphasize American evils like sexism, racism, industrialism… rather than teaching about the good parts of American history.  Teachers need to inspire patriotism in their students.  American children should be presented with a history they can be proud of.  As such, historical educators should strive to present history in a manner that is true, but also in a manner that does not purposefully demean the United States every other page.  Americans need to learn about the great things this nation has accomplished, not just the terrible atrocities it has supposedly committed.  Why do we allow liberals, under the guise of diversity and liberal enlightenment, to dictate what our students learn?  The Common Core Standards are sure to ensure liberals are able to maintain a hold on the educational standards our students are forced to learn within.  Political correctness will be the death of this nation, education included.  Why can’t liberals recognize that flawed human beings are able to be admired?  After all, all people are by nature flawed.  Just because a historical figure was racist, sexist, or elitism doesn’t mean everything they did was bad.  Facts do not speak for themselves, humor needs to be integrating into historical curriculum, and reason must be maintained as subservient to truth.

Miscellaneous…Liberal Rantings about Conservatism

Hitt’s Conservative History of the United States contains quotes that are taken out of context and from individuals that strive for soundbytes that will land them publicity.  My favorite “historically quoted event” on this absurd timeline is September 11th, 2001.  According to Hitt, conservatives believe that nothing occurred on 9/11!!  Any conservative will tell you that Islamic Terrorists attacked the United States of America on 9/11!  That Hitt even thought to add this proves his lack of understanding of conservatism.  I could do this with most of the events on this timeline.  Hitt redefines ignoramus; this rivals Chauncey DeVega’s article as one of the most biased I have ever read.  Hensatri opens his article with “It is the mark of an intellectually honest person that they will take the occasional moment aside from the heat of debate and seriously consider the position of their opponent.”  He then proceeds to explain how he is such an intellectual.  After his self-aggrandizement is over, he gets to the point of his argument: “Social Conservatives are always wrong.”  How intellectual?  How honest? How ridiculous! Nathaniel Strickland’s article highlights how big the gap has become between conservatives and liberals.  This article makes me truly wonder whether the gap can ever be bridged.

 

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